Part of the Diaspora Dance Performance Team, Nettie dances with the group before the parade. This was one of the years that the team received the “Best Choreography” award (2020).

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Oakland's Black Joy Parade

Cheryl L. Guerrero | California, United States

Created to celebrate the Black experience and the community’s contribution to history and culture, the Black Joy Parade takes place during Black History Month each year in Oakland, CA. Started in 2018, the organization is a volunteer-run nonprofit that strives to “unite a diverse community by creating a space to express … unique contributions to the Black experience.”

The parade hosts contingents from community groups to dance crews, while its accompanying festival highlights Black-owned businesses. Together it can draw tens of thousands to downtown Oakland.

Black culture and joy resonate with many attendees against a backdrop of community loss and displacement. Known as The Town, Oakland’s Black population was almost 50% at its peak, but gentrification has made its mark. Between 2000 and 2010, the Black population decreased by nearly 25%. Residents and attendees feel the importance of being present. And seen.

As attendee Alanna Shipley noted, “The reason these events are so big is because while you can see us being pushed out, it shows we’re still here, still big, and our voices are still being felt.”

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